Palau: I did see many religious books in the bookstores I visited, including those by Mr. Crouch. I also went to the Amity Publishing Company in Nanjing and was impressed by the quantity, the quality, and the distribution across China of the Bible. So I'm very grateful.
You have read the Bible. I would like to know what impressed you most.
Zhao: I started my career as a researcher in nuclear physics. In physics there are only three Newtonian laws, very clear and simple. Compared with them, the Bible is much more complicated. Perhaps we could reduce the Bible to a few basic points, like the Newtonian laws. I suppose these would be enough. One, God is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. God is perfectly good. Two, because of his original sin, man has difficulty communicating with God. Three, God therefore sends Jesus to communicate with man. Four, man must not try to design his own fate but should follow the guidance of Jesus and the Bible.
Palau: That is quite a perfect summary of the main points of the Bible. Even I as an evangelist have not said it with such perfection and accuracy. Of course, there are many other points of the Christian faith, but you have mentioned the more important components. It seems to me you could make an evangelist and that I should not try to convince you. (laughter)
Zhao: Simple is beautiful. The Newtonian laws are noted for their preciseness and beauty. So is Einstein's famous formula. Simple in form, but meaningful and rich in deduction.
Even from a non-theological point of view, the Bible is an important book and may be understood from many perspectives.
Palau: So would you give your perspective on the Bible? It will educate me.
Zhao: In the first place, the Bible is a classic for Christians, the basis of their creed. It is also a history book since it records the life, the thoughts and wishes of the various peoples who lived in the Middle East during ancient times. The Bible covers the history of not only the Hebrews but also of other peoples like the Egyptians, Canaanites, Babylonians and others who lived in that region of the world. The Bible is not authored by any individual. It is the crystallization of the wisdom of many peoples for it was passed down from generation to generation as oral history until some 1,300 years later when it was finalized. The Bible represents a very truthful record of life during ancient times. For example, in the Bible there was no mention of tea as it had not been introduced from the East. Nor did the Bible mention smoking because that bad habit didn't exist then.
Palau: That's true. It didn't mention tea, but I am glad you Chinese brought it to the world.
Zhao: The Bible also records the philosophical thinking of those ancient people who tried to answer some fundamental questions, for example, about the origin of humankind and of the universe. One could see that their philosophy, especially religious philosophy, had reached a certain high level. These people tried to use their wisdom to answer those questions of ultimate concern.
Then the Bible is good literature. Integrating Hebrew, Greek and Roman culture, it abounds in beautiful prose, proverbs and poems. What is more, it has formulated many ethical standards for people, then and now. The Bible is well-worth reading from all these perspectives.
Palau: Well, I think you've got a good grasp of what the Bible teaches in an amazing way. You've picked on the essential meaning of the Bible from the writers' perspective. And there is another dimension that I'm sure you've noticed that comes through when you read it all.
From our point of view, the Bible is part of God's total revelation to man. God reveals himself through creation, the beauty of the world. The whole creation speaks of the glory of God and the power of God. So when one looks at creation, you get a picture that God is almighty, that he loves beauty, that he is creative, that he also enjoys himself because of all the birds and the fish and the amazing things in creation. So everything you said about the Bible is absolutely correct. There's that other spiritual dimension that comes through also.
And secondly, God has revealed himself personally. In the Book of Colossians, it says about Jesus Christ, "He is the visible image of the invisible God." When a scientist like you is thinking "I want to look at concrete human things so I can understand them," here comes Jesus who says, "Look at me and you've actually seen the character of God." So it's what we call "progressive revelation." It started with physical creation. It progressed to written revelation, the Scriptures. And then we see the coming of Jesus Christ as God's final revelation in a personal way. So it's a progressive way of knowing God.
The beautiful thing, since you're a scientist, is that the Bible never really contradicts the true findings of science. Science and the Bible don't contradict each other in their true findings. And my own conviction, of course the conviction of all Christians, is that the Bible is inspired by God, even though the authors wrote freely, God overruled-if you can use that word-so that the end result was what God wanted us to know about him. And this is profoundly logical. Because if God is a personal God, we believe that he created us humans so that we could relate to him. Since he is invisible, he had to reveal himself and he did it in a progressive way. So for a scientist who becomes a true believer in God through Jesus, it's doubly exciting.
For instance, right now in many of the universities, they're beginning to discuss the issue of intelligent design. And they're also talking about the Big Bang Theory. And in Genesis of the Bible, when it says, "In the beginning, God made the heavens and the earth," it speaks like there was a big explosion.
I'll finish with the final point about the Bible. The climax of the revelation is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the resurrection because he was the Son of God. You said it so well when you said that there was need of a bridge between God and humans. And that was Jesus Christ. So in your reading you picked up the right message.